Along with the announcement of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus from Apple Inc., the Cupertino-based company also introduced its latest gadget, the Apple Watch, which would be available in early 2015 and come equipped with an inductive charging offering.
The wireless charging market currently contains three separate standards driven by the Wireless Power Consortium, the Power Matters Alliance and the Alliance for Wireless Power. Concerns that the industry could be become further complicated by Apple entering with a fourth disruptive proprietary solution were allayed during its event on Sept. 9th, at least for another six to 12 months ahead of its future product announcements.
While Apple did announce a wireless charging solution for its eagerly awaited smartwatch, Apple Watch, in contrast to the smartwatch itself, the solution appears far from innovative compared with other wireless charging technologies currently in production or development and no mention of support for wireless charging for iPhone or other Apple devices was made.
Not really wireless
Existing wireless charging solutions are typically a pad, mat or “plate” which consumers can place an enabled device on to charge without connecting the two physically. The enabled device (e.g. a cell phone) can be picked up for use and replaced to charge, thus often termed “drop and charge.” Advancements in technology are seeing the emergence of solutions that are offering greater spatial freedom, wireless charging through surfaces (e.g. through the surface of a desk), support for wireless charging of multiple devices from the same wireless charger and even wireless charging over distance.
Apple’s solution for its smartwatch, while it uses inductive charging, is not a “drop and charge” solution, nor does it offer any range of freedom of movement to the user. The smartwatch is, in essence, physically tethered to the charger at all times while charging and held in place by a magnet. Essentially a wire with a magnet on the end.
Apple’s announcement may drive some awareness of inductive or wireless charging, it’s not really promoting the use case or benefits that this technology has to offer. The positives from its announcement are really that the wireless charging market has room to develop further without added disruption from Apple in the short-term at least.